Black text printed on probably white background. Slightly skewed printing to the top right.
Metal backing engraved: SWEET CAPORAL CIGARETTE
This promotional pin is one of a series of conversation starters attributed to Sweet Caporal Cigarettes. Others include "Here's your hat, what's your hurry," "Wanted a wife," "You make me grin," "You make me tired," "Kiss me quick," "Don't mind if I do," and "You've fooled me long enough."
"The Old Reliable," Sweet Caporal Cigarettes were produced by Kinney Bros. Tobacco Company, New York starting in 1878. Shortly after, Kinney Bros merged into the giant American Tobacco Company. A.T.C.'s monopoly was broken in 1911 but they retained Sweet Caporal. The popularity of the brand may be linked to its novel use of collectible cigarette cards included in each pack. There was Victorian theater stars, illustrated Mutt and Jeff phrases, American flags, an Aircraft Spotter Series in the 1940s ("Learn to know friend from foe"), and many baseball series over the years.
It might be hard to imagine that baseball cards were the prize inside a pack of smokes, but these tobacco company promotional items were instrumental in the proliferation of baseball cards (and Sweet Caporal wasn't the only brand sponsoring them). One conscientious player, Honus Wagner, objected to the association. The company pulled his card after he announced he "did not care to have his picture in a package of cigarettes." Unsurprisingly, one of the 57 Wagner cards produced in 1909-1911 sold in 2007 for $2.8 million, the highest price ever for a baseball card. Sweet Caporal brand was discontinued in the US in 1969 after the introduction of a filtered version, but continued in Canada until 2011.
Unopened packs are a collectors dream. Watch dealers discuss a pack of century-old smokes for sale.